20. Megan Thee Stallion – Don’t Stop (Good News – Album)
My favourite track of hers this year, the beat on this is huge with crushing bass and an almost dubstep feel. Quick fire raps from both Megan and Young Thug are topped off with a chorus that sticks in your head and is a riff on Luke’s ‘I Wanna Rock’.
19. BLACKPINK – How You Like That (THE ALBUM – Album)
K-pop is massive and only getting more popular and it’s tracks like this that have opened the door for me. This is a fantastic pop song with a electronic dance vibe. Blissed out in the verses, booming for the chorus and then the best part of the song comes just before the end when the pace picks up and everything hits that bit harder and makes you want to leap around the room.
18. Royal Blood – Trouble’s Coming (Purple Disco Machine Remix) (Trouble’s Coming – Single)
Funky dance pop. Not words you would usually associate with Royal Blood but exactly what this remix offers – and it suits them!! You can hear them broadening out their sound on the original version of this song and that makes me excited for what the album will hold in 2021.
17. Arlo Parks – Hurt (Hurt – Single)
This lady is special. She’s released a handful of really great singles so far and this is my favourite. The music on this has a really cool 90s feel, with a memorable bassline and crisp but relaxed drums. Her lyrics offer strong, realistic, human advice and fill you with hope. A nice change in these often dark times.
16. 100 gecs – hand crushed by a mallet (Remix) (1000 gecs And The Tree Of Clues – Album)
Now this is a slap in the face (in the best way!!). The unmistakable vocals of Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy) come in after a slow, lolloping bassline, then a spiralling guitar brings us an electronic Aphex Twin-style piece, before the guitars and drums thrash us to an end filled with all kinds of vocal distortion and almost happy hardcore beats. You can dance, you can mosh, you can definitely lose your shit to this.
15. Hayley Williams – Simmer (Petals For Armor – Album)
The Paramore frontwoman released her debut solo album this year (Petals For Armor) and it turned out to be a really assured and quality record. This song was the best of the bunch, a great pop song with an alternative edge, a chorus that sticks with you and a totally addictive descending guitar riff that holds the whole thing together.
14. Rina Sawayama – STFU! (SAWAYAMA – Album)
What a monster of a track!! This kicks some serious ass and reminds me of prime time Korn with it’s nu metal riffs, aggressive sentiments in the lyrics but sung so beautifully and with perfect pop sensibility by Rina. The part where she turns a laugh into a vocal riff after the first chorus gets me punching the air in delight every time.
13. SG Lewis – Feed The Fire (Feed The Fire – Single)
Pure dance floor pop at it’s finest. This has a late 70s/early 80s disco sheen to it but with a modern production that keeps it fresh. Great wriggly bassline that gets you popping all kinds of shapes, quality synths and strings adding a touch of class and a complete earworm of a chorus make this one a keeper.
12. Eminem – Godzilla (Music To Be Murdered By – Album)
What to say about this man that hasn’t been said before?! From a so-so album and just when you think he could be on a downward slope, he releases an absolute banger like this. Juice WRLD (R.I.P.) provides the super catchy chorus but it’s the sheer pace of the raps by Slim Shady himself that drop my jaw in amazement. He’s done this kind of style before but never as strong as this. He’s spitting at incredible speed but you can still hear every word he’s saying when it could so easily just become a blurred noise. Don’t write him off just yet.
11. Bree Runway – ATM (2000AND4EVA – Album)
I told you Missy Elliott would be making an appearance on this list and here she is sharing this track with Miss Runway. Excellent production, dancefloor ready pace, big booming bass and two ladies at the top of their game spitting rhymes, it’s criminal that this wasn’t a big hit. Could she become the rap equivalent of Lizzo and become a huge star after putting in all the groundwork, time will tell.
10. Christine And The Queens – People, I’ve Been Sad (La Vita Nuova – EP)
Atmospheric 80s style production swirls around your brain, drawing you in and losing you in it’s sheer bliss. The always welcome mix of French and English sung parts never fail to thrill and even though the song is melancholy it builds to an uplifting climax on layers of keyboards and multi tracked and pitch shifted vocals.
9. Run The Jewels – ooh la la (RTJ4 – Album)
Banger!! The best pure hip-hop beat of the year, an old school sound with Greg Nice on vocal duties and DJ Premier bringing the scratches, EL-P still manages to make this sound futuristic with his production magic. Killer Mike has one of the best and most commanding voices in rap and like Chuck D before him, makes you want to listen to every word he says.
8. Roddy Ricch – The Box (Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial – Album)
Best hip-hop track of the year, this was hot when it dropped at the tail end of 2019 and remained so for the next 12 months (and beyond). Trippy, almost psychedelic production sits atop deep bass and Roddy Ricch’s superb raps, he brings a style of his own that is lyrically dense but totally catchy. This guy should be the next rap superstar.
7. Bring Me The Horizon – Parasite Eve (POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR – Album)
Huge sounding track, this has all the elements of modern day BMTH you could ever want. Their sheer power, melded to such a level of experimentation, sets them apart from so many of their peers and when they choose to just step on the gas and absolutely let rip, like they do at the tail end of this track, then there’s very few bands in the current rock scene that can touch them.
6. Harry Styles – Falling (Fine Line – Album)
This is such a beautiful song, it sounds so honest and heartfelt and can only come from the brain of someone who has actually lived this. Undoubtedly the best vocal performance of his career to date, if you played this to someone and didn’t let them know it was by Harry Styles (as there’s still an unwarranted stigma attached to that name), then I believe people would be bowled over by the sheer craftsmanship that makes this track a modern classic. It’s been on heavy rotation for me for 12 months and hasn’t gotten old yet.
5. Miley Cyrus – Edge Of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix) (Plastic Hearts – Album)
Now, I really liked the original version of ‘Midnight Sky’ and that would have made the list but then this came out and all bets were off as to which version to include!! As a big fan of Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge Of Seventeen’, as soon as that opening guitar line kicked in, I was hooked. It’s a perfect amalgamation of both songs, with Miley not letting her song be overshadowed by the stone cold classic but letting it bring her to new heights and proving she can hang with greatness. Rock suits you Miss Cyrus.
4. Perfume Genius – On The Floor (Set My Heart On Fire Immediately – Album)
Unashamedly pop but quirky enough to be far enough away from the sheen of the upper reaches of the charts, this has one of the best choruses of the year and is lovelorn but really uplifting. Probably the closest he’s ever got to the dancefloor, you’ll be dancing whilst having to wipe a few tears away discreetly. It’s a thing of beauty and you’ll fall in love on first listen (and I promise it’ll love you right back!!).
3. Phoebe Bridgers – I Know The End (Punisher – Album)
Oh my goodness, Phoebe!! I wasn’t expecting this!! Taken from her excellent Punisher LP, this starts off with her typical evocative, understated beauty and then becomes something so special. The second half of this song just needs to be heard to be believed and better yet needs to be felt to experience the level of ebullience it brings to you (which is impressive considering it’s about the end of the world as we know it!!). I have listened to this track a lot and still I find little parts that I didn’t pick out, even on the 50th listen and it never fails to make the hairs on the back of my neck and the goosebumps emerge when the change comes (listen and you’ll know exactly when I mean).
2. Sufjan Stevens – The Acension (The Acension – Album
Incredible record, this can take you to the brink of tears due to it’s beauty and sadness but becomes so inspiriting and fills you with a feeling of warmth that flows through your body like only the greatest songs can do. It talks about the confines of religion and the expectations put upon you by yourself and by others but having the courage to break away and be your own person, with your own beliefs and live your life with joy and happiness and love. And those three words sure are what we need in this world right now.
1, Taylor Swift – exile (folklore – Album)
I have to say, as much as I admire Taylor Swift and have enjoyed a lot of her songs, I never thought one of her tracks would be my favourite of the year but here we are!! I fell in love with this as soon as I heard it, the moment Justin Vernon’s voice hits your ears, you know this is going to be special. The two vocalists compliment each other perfectly, often times overlapping one another, portraying the feeling of an argument, the one-upmanship, the disintegration of a relationship, the sheer disbelief and hopelessness (”I gave so many signs”). The growth in Taylor Swift is incredible to see, aligning her natural talent with equally brilliant people like Aaron Dessner (The National) and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) allows her to fully be herself and make the records she wants to make, not just a country star, not just a pop star – just a star.
Here’s the full 100 Spotify playlist –
Here’s the full 100 Apple Music playlist –